Drake - Honda Center - November 21, 2013

Categories: live review

Reza Allahbakhshi
Honda Center

Whether she knew it or not, the blonde Newport Beach cougar that Drake brought onstage last night at the Honda Center had an important role to play in his quest to prove his status as the Millennial Elvis.

Toward the middle of the Canadian rapper's set, she appeared onstage following his request to find a "mature woman" in the audience. We hesitate to take a stab at guessing her age, but if it helps you out, her name was Virginia. The audience erupted in cheers as they took in the image of this quintessential OC soccer mom in a suede jacket, jeans and a turtle neck being turned into an elated teenage girl by Drizzy's soft coos on the outro of the inescapable summer jam "Hold On, We're Going Home." It was one of many conceits that describe just how ubiquitous his role in pop culture has become. After all, you're not really famous until you can turn the mothers of your core fans into groupies.

After his arrival, he reminded us that the last time he was on the Honda Center stage he was opening for Snoop Dogg at Powerhouse in 2010. In the years since his debut album Thank Me Later, he's acquired enough fame to host his own show full of abbreviated versions of his top shelf tracks.

Drake's unabashed desire to be known as a hip-hop innovator got a little bit louder this year following the release his third full length of Nothing Was the Same. And while there's still hesitation on the part of critics to grant truth to that title, most can concede that Ontario's leading hip-hop export is at least making some well-needed adjustments to become the icon he's already telling us he is.

He emerged from the top of a tilted circular stage, donning a casual, all-white getup akin to a basketball player's warm up uniform and proceeded to work his court like an all-star athlete. We even saw a few ghost dribbles in his repertoire of dance moves as he kicked things off appropriately with the overextended intro "Tuscan Leather." Opting to get most of the new material out of the way early is a standard move in any live setting. But the onslaught of solipsistic verses and moody beats that might thrive in our headphones on this new album left the crowd more hypnotized than energized in the early part of the set-- even though he was obviously super excited to show them off on this tour, which included openers Miguel and Future.

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